Today is the end of our first week in Mexico. It’s a whole different country, and it’s amazing. There’s something about it that just feels familiar, almost like I’ve been here before. Victoria says there’s even a town in Mexico called Chihuaha, so maybe that’s where I’m from? I don’t know, but so far it just feels like home.
So, the border crossing: My Family was really stressed out about this. I know that Victoria had spent a long time researching the process, and especially what it was going to be like taking me across. We all stayed up really late the night before, trying to get ready. I was so tired, but my Family really wanted to make sure everything was going to be okay. Victoria thought about getting me ‘USDA Certified’, whatever that means. Jason thought that made me sound like a steak, which is a little concerning. Victoria decided it sounded like too much work so the plan was to try crossing without my USDA Certification, and then head back to San Diego if there were any problems.
I don’t really know what all the fuss was about. The border crossing took all of ten minutes. Yes, there was a big fence, and some scary men carrying big guns. But everyone was so nice. Jason said the Border Patrol Agents prayed over the back of our camper, and laughed at our ‘Perro Peligroso’ sign. Hey, I’m a lot tougher than I look! Even the ‘Red Light’ stop as we were crossing was super quick. Suddenly we were off again, into a whole new world. I could tell we were in Mexico, because things just smelled different. Victoria said this was a place called Tijuana, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. It was big and kinda dirty, but beautiful too. The locals burn garbage here, which smells kind of delicious.
We drove right through Tijuana and got on a road called ‘Mex 1’. I think this might be the same road we’ve been on this whole time. But it felt a bit different. We drove on through some beautiful countryside, into a town called Ensenada. This is really more of a city than a town, which I know means there’s a lot more people, more buildings, and a whole lot more dogs. We stopped off here so Victoria and Jason could get a cell phone and an internet connection. Not sure why that’s such a big deal, but Jason was really happy about it. I mean, we’ve got our whole home in the camper. What would we ever need to call someone about? We drove on through Ensenada, and south of town near a place called ‘La Bufadora’ we found a campground right next to something called an ‘estuary’. It’s sort of like a river, but when we got there it was mostly just mud, with funny looking birds walking around pecking at things. There was also a castle on the campground, and I think the people who owned it live there. They must be the King and Queen of La Bufadora. There were a couple of nice dogs, and kids riding bikes all around. Victoria and Jason opened up a bottle of Vic’s favorite wine to celebrate crossing the border. Do we always get to celebrate something so simple? Does that mean I get a treat the next time I come when asked? Anyway, after that we snuggled up for the night.
The next day the muddy estuary was full of water! It was like a whole different place. We packed up the camper and got back on the road, headed for a place called San Quintin. It took us several hours to drive there, but the countryside just got more and more beautiful. We stopped along the way for shrimp and fish tacos, which of course I got to sample. There were some other Americans there, which people here call either ‘touristos’ or ‘gringos’. They were nice, and said hi to me. We kept driving, and ended up at a campground called ‘Cielito Lindo’. This was right near the ocean, but we couldn’t see it from our spot. We were basically in a parking lot, staring at the back of buildings. I didn’t know why we decided to stay here, until we started walking towards the beach.
We walked down a dirt road, and my Family let me off of my leash! I almost couldn’t believe it at first, but they just kept letting me run around. I ran circles around them, sniffed all sorts of things, and then I saw these amazing sand dunes, which were much MUCH bigger than me. We crossed those, and there was the ocean. And I was still off my leash! I couldn’t believe it. I never got to be off leash on the beach at home. We ran around for what felt like hours, and we were the only ones there. I even dipped my paws in the water, and played a game where I would bite at the foam that came up on the beach. It was turning into maybe the best day ever.
I knew it wouldn’t last. When we got back to the camper, Victoria and Jason left me inside so they could go out for dinner. I wasn’t going to get to try any of it! What felt like days later they came back, silly from Margaritas and praising the restaurant’s incredible crab and shrimp, and the super nice people that worked there. Turns out, the whole reason we were camped in the restaurant parking lot is because Victoria wanted to try their crab. To make matters worse… no leftovers. Yep, basically the worst night of the trip.
The next day we packed up to get back on the road. I’m glad we had plenty of food and water with us, because this ended up being one of the longer days we’d had. Jason and Victoria were talking about gas for the big truck, and wondering if they would be okay. It was going to be 200 miles between gas stations, which sounds like a lot. As we made our way towards a town called Guerro Negro, on the border between Baja Norte and Baja Sur, the view out the window kept changing in amazing ways. We drove through the desert, past a town called Catavina, and saw cactus, and this field of huge boulders, and funny trees called “Cirios” that I’d never seen before. Victoria said that it looked like Dr. Seuss did the decorating, whoever that is. We met a group of surfers who had driven from a country called Canada in a funny van, and they skateboarded down the huge hills, even with trucks around! We stopped for water and they chatted with my Family a bit, suggesting some spots to camp up ahead.
As the hours rolled by, we knew we wouldn’t be to Guerro Negro before we had to stop. My Family decided to just pull off the highway, find a beach and camp for the night. They call this ‘boondocking’, which is one of the sillier human words I’ve ever heard. We passed a bunch of roads off the highway, but My Family couldn’t decide which one to take and then Jason decided finally to just pick one, so we left the highway and drove into the desert!
We were now on the bumpiest road I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if you could even really call it a road. It was more of a dirt track, covered in rocks, with huge gaps we had to crawl up and down. Jason was pretty grumpy at this point. He hadn’t eaten lunch, and he always gets grumpy when he forgets to eat. I know the feeling! Victoria and I didn’t like the bumpy ride much, and I was standing as still as possible until it was over. Finally we found a place to stop. The trip was rough, but it was worth it. We were right on the edge of the most perfect beach I’ve ever seen. There was a hill of rocks, and then perfect, white sand. Our paw and footprints were the only ones you could see for miles. There was one more truck in sight, far in the distance, with a couple of men who were throwing the rocks aside. Jason said they were ‘crabbing’. Does that mean they were in a bad mood?
That night the moon was full, and the water kept rising higher and higher. The ocean was so loud, I didn’t know if we were ever going to get to sleep. Jason kept checking the water line with our big flashlight, I guess to make sure we didn’t get washed away? We were totally safe, and had a super comfy night under a ton of stars.
The next morning we packed up to complete our drive through the desert. We crossed another border, between the North and South of Baja, and the people there were really nice as well. The Border Agent asked us if we had any fruits or vegetables, and then if we had any “beards”. This made Jason really confused, and I saw him touching his face. After a bit of broken Spanish My Family figured out he was asking if we had any birds with us! He taught us the Spanish word, and we helped him figure out how to say it in English. It was pretty funny. We drove on from there, towards a place called Bahia Concepcion. We spent a couple more hours on some twisty turny roads, up and down a mountain, and finally came out on the whole other side of Baja! Oh, and I forgot to mention, when we crossed the border we also crossed into a different Time Zone. I know, I didn’t understand that at first either. But apparently people say it’s a different time depending on where they are. Baja Norte is part of what’s called ‘Pacific Time’, which is what it’s like at our old home in Venice. Baja Sur is in ‘Mountain Time’, which is like in Colorado, when we first picked up the camper. We drove through Guerro Negro and found a small town where we could stop for lunch. Victoria bought a delicious seafood soup from a stand at the side of the road, and I got to try some. I love how much food I get to try in Mexico!
A short drive later we left the desert behind and found Bahia Concepcion. This was definitely one of the most beautiful places we had seen so far. It’s a huge bay on the Gulf of California, with a bunch of small beaches for camping. We were headed to a place called Buenaventura Resort, where they had places to camp, a restaurant and free internet. Jason was pretty excited about this last part because he had more work to do. When we got there we found a bunch of people who speak English, all drinking and having a great time together. We had a delicious dinner, and I met a couple of dogs. More on them later.
We set up quickly and then hung out with this great American couple named Mike and Megan. They were in Baja to teach children to swim, and Megan grew up right around the corner from our home in Venice! It was nice to see some people that still smelled like our old home. We had a fire, and the other camp dogs hung out with us. There was Bo, a nice boy dog who really liked me, and Zora, a big dog who loved to hang out with all the campers. I knew this was going to be a nice place to stay for a while.
Luckily, that was the plan. My Family said we were going to stay for a few days, so I wouldn’t have to get back in the truck for a while. Best of all, I got to be off leash almost the entire time! I ran around the beach, and Victoria brought me into the water a little bit. I’m not a big fan of that, but my Family seems determined to turn me into a ‘water dog’. We’ll see about that. We spent a couple of great days at the Buenaventura Resort, relaxing on the sand, running around with the other dogs, eating delicious food and enjoying a couple of conversations with other travelers. We even met a couple who have been coming to Baja longer than My Family has been alive. They even lived on a boat for five years! We heard some pretty neat stories, and really enjoyed our time here. We might have even stayed longer, but Jason kept crashing the internet trying to use something called ‘Skype’, so we left after two and a half days. Victoria was okay about leaving this place even though it was so beautiful because the sand fleas really like biting her. She it’s because she has “sweet blood” and that all the bugs like to bite her so really, anywhere we go she will get bitten. Since then she’s been spraying “bug spray” all over herself which makes her smell pretty terrible but she says it will make her a lot less itchy.
Right as we were packing up the car to leave, a man drove up in a truck selling all kinds of things My Family normally buys in a market. Victoria kept saying “No, gracias” to everything he was offering us until he said the magic words ‘Pineapple Empanadas.’ Then she was all “Si! Si!” and bought a couple and let me tell you, they are amazing. I’m not sure why they don’t make them in Venice but I’m hoping we get to have them all the time here in Mexico! Did I mention how much food I get to try here? Mexico is the best! Anyway, as soon as we finished our Empanadas, we hopped back in the truck as usual.
Thankfully, we didn’t have far to drive. Just a couple of hours later we found a town called Loreto. This is a pretty big city for Baja, with restaurants, banks, supermarkets, a town square, and some really pretty buildings. Victoria read in one of her books that this is one of the oldest towns in Baja, dating all the way back to the 1600’s. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but Jason was pretty impressed. We were headed to a place called Loreto Shores Villas & RV park, because we heard from some other travelers that we wanted to meet that this was a nice place. It was pretty cool, but was more of a parking lot near the beach. Victoria did some laundry and Jason caught up on work. There was a pool that looked pretty nice, but I got left in the camper while Victoria and Jason went for a swim. Just as I was getting bored our new friends showed up. Their names are Andre and Marcia, and their adorable little girl Olivia, and they are on their own adventure. They are from a country called Brazil and they speak the same language as My Family (English) and another one called “Portuguese.” They have a camper that’s like ours, but a whole lot bigger, and they are driving all the way to the bottom of South America. They invited us to a steak dinner, which was really delicious. I got lots of kisses from Olivia, and we heard all sorts of stories from their adventures so far. I know my Family hopes we’ll run into them again, as we’re all headed south.
We were all pretty happy to leave the next morning because, boy, is Loreto noisy. All night the dogs-with-no-homes were barking and howling and running all over town! And roosters were screaming all night even though they are only supposed to tell us to wake up in the morning. Ugh! We stopped for breakfast in Loreto on our way out and I got to try ‘Chilaquiles’ which is one of Jason’s favorite breakfast foods, and now mine too. We drove up into the Sierra Giganta (basically a big mountain) and the slowly back down through farmland. It was very pretty but now we are in Ciudad Constitucion in a motel parking lot. We are the only travelers here so it’s not that much fun, but Jason was getting tired of driving all the time and Victoria said it would be a good place to stop for the night. I can’t wait to get to the beach again!
PS: If you want to see some of the photos My Family took this week you can check them our on Facebook!